Del. animal welfare agency selects out-of-state contractor

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     (File photo)

    (File photo)

    Delaware’s Office of Animal Welfare has selected Chester County SPCA in Pennsylvania to house animals brought in by state animal control officers.

    The Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) will pick up animal control enforcement starting on Jan. 1, 2016.

    “The CCSPCA has a solid reputation for delivering progressive and innovative programs to rehabilitate and rehome stray and abused animals,” said Hetti Brown, director of the OAW. “The organization also prevents animal homelessness through pet owner counseling and the delivery of compassionate resources. This is the key to ensuring every healthy and treatable animal has a home in Delaware.”

    The contract with CCSPCA is a three-year agreement that may be renewed for up to two additional years.

    The contract will cost a total of $6,514,500; including:

    $2,150,000 for year one costs
    $2,150,000 for year two costs
    $2,214,500 for year three costs

    Brown said CCSPCA will provide services at a permanent facility located in New Castle County and satellite facilities in Kent and Sussex Counties.

    “It was a condition of the [request for proposals] that any bidder needed to provide conveniently located shelters and kennels so people could be reunited with their pets,” said Brown, who also wanted to ensure that all Delaware animals stay in the state for care and adoption as well.

    “We are a proud partner of the Office of Animal Welfare in the collective goal of aiding the most vulnerable animals in Delaware,” Chester County SCPA Executive Director Adam Lamb said. “We are also excited to continue to be part of a community so dedicated to the advancement of animal welfare.”

    The CCSPCA has had temporary operations in Delaware since September. The CCSPCA picked up animal control services and emergency animal cruelty sheltering for the city of Wilmington and Kent County when the First State Animal Center and SPCA (formerly Kent County SPCA) suddenly ended services.

    CCSPCA’s duties include medically treating and sheltering stray and abused animals. It will also provide rabies quarantine and adoption services for animals retrieved by Delaware Animal Services (DAS), the state’s first animal control enforcement unit.

    Under the OAW umbrella, DAS will handle all animal control complaints, including stray dogs and seriously injured or endangered cats, as well as enforce animal cruelty and rabies exposure cases.

    Ruffling feathers

    The OAW solicited requests for proposals for animal sheltering services in August. Only two bids were received: one from the Delaware SPCA, the other from the CCSPCA.

    Selecting the West Chester-based shelter has ruffled some feathers. The Delaware SPCA started a change.org petition protesting the selection of an out-of-state provider for the statewide animal control contract.

    “We believe strongly that it is in the state’s best interests and our taxpayer’s best interests to keep our tax dollars in-state,” the petition read. “A Pennsylvania business does not have the experience in OUR STATE to make sure that our animals are protected.”

    Brown said the RFP process was not limited to in-state providers. Following negotiations with both organizations, Brown said the state’s decision came down to price and the scope of services being offered.

    Noticeably absent

    For a long time, the FSAC-SPCA handled animal control services statewide, but now only provides its services in New Castle and Sussex Counties. Their contracts expire next year when the OAW takes over statewide duties.

    Brown said the shelter, run by Kevin Usilton, did not submit a bid.

    “The way that we designed the RFP, we allowed bidders to bid per county or for statewide services and we had certainly hoped that many organizations would bid, including First State Animal Center since they had experience, but we received two bids,” Brown said.

    It’s no secret that Usilton is not a fan of the way the OAW has been managed. Usilton was not available to comment on why his organization did not bid on the contract. An automatic email reply stated he is out of the office until after the Thanksgiving holiday.

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